NIH SBIR/STTR Award Trends in NC Over Past Decade

  Yet Another Successful Graduate Summer Internship Completed

  No Stone Left Unturned at 'Becoming an Investor-Ready Entrepreneur' Program

  CALL FOR PROPOSALS Flash Grant Cycle 1

  Signs Your Business Might Need HR Expertise


patent NIH SBIR/STTR Award Trends in NC
Over Past Decade

NIH recently released its SBIR/STTR proposal and award data for 2018. The data covers the number of 1.) proposals reviewed, 2.) number awards made and 3.) total dollars awarded for all 50 states.
Below are trends in North Carolina over the last decade for these three metrics:

North Carolina's SBIR/STTR NIH applications have more than doubled since 2009. After a lull in proposal submissions in the mid 2010's, submissions increased to a historic high of 373 in 2018 behind only California and Massachusetts.

SBIR/STTR win rates have remained steady in the low to mid 20% range over the last 7 years and topped out at just over 30% in 2009. Compared to other states, NC is ranked 11th in the country on win rates. The median win rate is 21%.

Total NIH SBIR/STTR funding hit a historic high in 2018 at $36M which is over 7% of the entire SBIR/STTR budget at NIH. This is a more than 2-fold increase since 2008 and places NC 3rd in the country after only California and Massachusetts. The median award amount for the states in 2018 was $4.7M.

Yet Another Successful Graduate Summer Internship Completed

The 2019 SBTDC's Tech Commercialization Summer Consulting Internship wrapped-up it's 18th summer on July 23th. A total of 12 graduate interns across 8 graduate programs (listed below) took part in consulting activities with 24 clients.   Throughout the 10-week program, interns met as a group 6 times including an orientation, several project discussions, an investor pitch lecture and a practice pitch delivery session. In addition, each intern is mentored by individual Tech Team members on a weekly basis.
Client companies ranged from 2 employees to 54 employees and assistance to the clients stretched from connecting to VC/Angel funding, preparation of SBIR commercialization plans to using innovations to redefine the competitive advantage family owned business. Over 50 were in attendance.  Client participation was higher the normal, with even a client from over 300 mile away traveling to Chapel Hill to attend.  Representatives of multiple university career and entrepreneurship centers also took part.
Recurrent themes of Interns' Take-a-way Messages from Interns:
  • Communication and ability to listen is key
  • Ask lots of questions, learn from answers
  • Embrace ambiguity
  • Be flexible. Tasks don't always happen according to plan
  • Make it not only a job, but a belief
  • Be positive with rejections when conducting primary market research
We are very proud of the over 150 interns and more than 300 clients that have participated over the years.  The program provides: 1.) focused assistance to small business clients with their technology commercialization strategies, 2.) professional students with entrepreneurial opportunities and 3.) economic impacts.  All three outcomes are commendable.

University Participation

SBIR/STTR Solicitation Dates

No Stone Left Unturned at 
'Becoming an Investor-Ready Entrepreneur' Program

North Carolina life science entrepreneurs gained lucrative insight from a panel of seasoned peers and investors on July 11th in a thorough 14-module presentation from the  Small Business and Technology Development Center .

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center hosted the popular "Becoming an Investor-Ready Entrepreneur" event for the tenth time.

The program serves as one of SBTDC's educational tools in its mission to advance North Carolina industry and level the playing field for entrepreneurs as they prepare to enter the private equity investment process. Since 90% of capital funding for companies in the seed or early stage comes from angel investors, the event focused on proper market positioning and an inside look at what catches an investor's attention.

One of the first topics covered was the panelists' views of the North Carolina funding landscape. While Ed Pettiss of RTP Capital Associates described the Research Triangle area's funding landscape as the epicenter of a vibrant and flourishing ecosystem for the state, Eva Doss of The Launch Place countered with her perspective that she has seen a negative trend for the quality of investment deals. Morningstar Law Group Attorney Kip Johnson had a separate view; he believes RTP is lush for new ventures at the early stage but bigger deals must find funding outside of North Carolina. However, the panel all agreed on the importance of the "three-legged stool:" idea, market, and management team.

Joy Parr Drach, president and CEO of  Advanced Animal Diagnostics , shared her "Four I's" that are vital to a management team's success: integrity, inquisition, intelligence, and initiative. A leader who is focused and customer driven will meet market needs while maintaining a business through unwavering ethics and a passion for solution. The venture must have value that solves a problem and can endure a tough market.

This was a particular topic of interest for the Pfizer-NCBiotech Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellows in Gene Therapy, as most investors do not get involved with single-dosage therapies. Morningstar's Johnson suggested that the fellows gain credit from grants to legitimize their research. Finding an investor for pharmaceutical therapies is no easy task; it takes persistence to find one that has a personal drive for the solution at hand. Other topics such as intellectual property in the med tech industry were of high value to the attending fellows.

The full-day program was both engaging and interactive; discussions often left attendees inquiring more. SBTDC has scheduled another IRE event this fall at East Carolina University in Greenville.

By: Lindsey Baron, NC Biotechnology Center

Flash Grant Cycle 1

DEADLINE: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 (noon)
NCBiotech's Flash Grant program aims to identify and energize the most creative ideas that exhibit early indications of commercial potential. Like a flash of inspiration, Flash Grants infuse funding at a critical early point when a small, targeted influx of funds can be crucial to shaping innovative research ideas into high potential life science technologies, particularly in emerging and converging life science sectors. 

For fiscal year 2020, there will be three cycles of Flash Grants. Cycles 1 and 3 will be topic-specific, and all submissions during those cycles must pertain to the life science area of interest indicated. Cycle 2 will be an open round where most life science technologies will be eligible for consideration.

Cycle 1 Topics: Agricultural tech, marine/aquaculture tech, and natural products

Flash Grants provide up to $20,000 to support short, sharply focused research projects that address one or both program goals:
  1. To obtain crucial proof-of-concept or feasibility testing data necessary to suggest the disruptive potential of a life science technology
  2. To conduct the final experiment(s) needed to advance a basic life science research program into the translational research phase of development  
Details on the cycle topic areas and application instructions are provided in the guidelines located here:
Visit for other deadlines and links to information on all NCBiotech grant and loan programs .

patentSigns Your Business Might Need HR Expertise

Working at the SBTDC, we often see companies that need Human Resource (HR) expertise but don't really know it. In this article, we will discuss some signs you might see while managing your company that indicate you should consider bringing in HR know-how.  

First, you need to know just what a Human Resource professional can bring to the table -- it's more than you think! The role of the HR expert is no longer just hiring, it is an important strategic role in a growing company.

Some key things a great HR professional can provide include:

  • Implementing a hiring process - It's HR's job to supply the company with qualified, reliable talent. This includes preparation of pay scale research and job descriptions prior to beginning the hiring process.
  • Managing benefits - It also falls on HR to manage employee benefits such as health insurance and 401K's. They can also manage schedules, time off, and other benefits that your company offers.
  • Company policies - Many businesses have policy manuals that are not up to date or don't have rules and regulations in place at all. An HR Professional can "own" this.
  • Legal concerns - It can be difficult to keep track of all the applicable laws and regulations to make sure that the company is on the right track. With no HR professional to turn to when there's a problem, issues may go unnoticed by the company until it escalates to litigation.
  • Onboarding - The new employee that you just spent months to find and hire will be more effective and happier with a great onboarding process. It sets the right tone and shows the company culture right away. Your HR expert can create a great onboarding process to engage your new employee from day one. First impressions count.
  • Training - Training both managers and employees is important for a variety of reasons. From safety training to employee engagement, leadership, and succession planning, HR experts fill a key role in the training process.
  • Resolving conflicts - HR professionals receive specialized training to be able to mediate conflicts between employees and between employees and management.
Read more


The North Carolina Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) educates business associates on how to obtain contracts by providing comprehensive assistance in selling products and services to local, state and federal government agencies.
The SBTDC's International Business Development Specialists assists small and mid-sized businesses with export planning and exporting.

The Team

The Technology Commercialization Services team provides one-on-one business counseling and advice 
to: small business owners, university researchers, and entrepreneurs looking to advance their innovations to the marketplace.

Director, Technology Development 
and Commercialization 
SBIR/STTR Specialist & Newsletter Editor 
Technology Commercialization Counselor
Eastern NC
Technology Commercialization Counselor
North Central NC

Technology Commercialization Program

5 West Hargett St., Suite 600 Raleigh, NC 27601